She is a leading South Korean actress and today Ok So-ri has been given an 8 month suspended prison sentence for adultery. In South Korea adultery is a criminal offence punishable by up to 2 years in prison. The country’s top judges have always ruled that adultery is damaging to social order, and the offence should therefore remain a crime. But should it?
Some people argue, and indeed have made a living out of saying, infidelity keeps a marriage alive and can actually make it stronger.
This really hones in on the sanctity of marriage – is it worse to be unfaithful to your wife or husband, than it a partner you live with or are in a long term relationship with?
This obviously raises moral, religious and health implications. As many countries fight the aids epidemic, especially in Africa, would criminalising adultery make people more or less likely to practice safe sex if they had an affair?
Is it a person’s right to make their own decisions about whether they remain faithful, or a government’s duty to intervene and enforce it?
Some interesting stats for you:
* In the United States, laws vary from state to state. In those States where adultery is still on the statute books, even though they are rarely prosecuted, the penalties vary from life sentence (Michigan), 2 years imprisonment (Pennsylvania), or a fine of $10 (Maryland). In the U.S. Military, adultery is a potential court-martial offense.
* In some countries, including Korea, and Taiwan, adultery continues to be a crime, though prosecutions are very rare.
* In Pakistan, adultery is a crime under the Hudood Ordinance. The Ordinance sets a maximum penalty of death, although only imprisonment and corporal punishment have ever actually been imposed.
* In Indian law, adultery is defined as sex between a man and a woman without the consent of the woman’s husband. The man is prosecutable and can be sentenced for up to 5 years (even if he himself was unmarried) whereas the married woman can not be jailed.
Should adultery be a crime?